All things considered, I feel like I am a pretty good teacher to my kids. I mean, they both had my guidance to learn how to walk, be a good friend, talk, write their names, say please and thank you, and even wear big girl undies. You know, the basics for young kids.
But there is one thing that I am really struggling with teaching my 6 year old. You see, my Maylie seems to really have trouble believing in herself. Which has me walking a fine line of teaching self-confidence within humility.
Looking back through her short life, her lack of belief in herself shines through from as early as her toddler years. Waiting until almost 15 months to walk, she was always very cautious. She has never been one to just do something, but instead needs plenty of encouragement to take the first step. Literally.
Instead of knowing that she can color the picture beautifully, she needs reassurance that it will turn out to be a masterpiece. If she struggles with one word in book, she forgets that she just read five pages without an error. And if I am giving any sort of compliment to her sister, even if I had planned on following it up with a compliment to her, she will immediately question whether or not I am proud of her.
While I have always been a little leery of her lack of belief in herself, I figured it was probably a minimal issue. Until recently, when her swim instructor wrote a note that she needed more confidence but Maylie also told me her school teacher often gives her a soft, sincere one-word reminder, “Confidence!”
To an extent, I guess she gets it honest. I mean, she does come from a line of women on my side who are extremely strong yet need constant love and reassurance — me included. But, that is typically on a more personal note and not shared or acted upon in her presence.
And while there have been times throughout my life when I have doubted myself — my abilities, my looks, my next steps, I feel like, at least outwardly, I have always seemed to be a pretty self-confident person. Especially when I need to be. Which happens to be just about every day as a mom.
But even before I was a mom, I trusted myself. Never will I forget my senior year of basketball when we were down by three with 9 seconds to go and my coach’s orders were to get the ball to me. I didn’t think twice. I looked at my teammates and proudly announced, “I live for this.” (In case you are wondering, I drained the three and we went into overtime).
But how do I make a child, who I have never doubted, know that she has the strength and the ability to do anything she puts her mind to? How do I make her see in herself what I can see in her?
I have dwelled on this a bit — probably too much — wondering if I am doing something wrong as a mother. Did she see me cringe in the mirror when I tried on my fourth shirt and still felt big? Could she detect that I was worried about my combination load of mom, career woman, wife and housekeeper in the upcoming week? Did she see my faith in myself falter?
But then my fearless 4 year old, who I am raising no different than Maylie, comes bouncing along confident that she can take on the world (or at least jump off of the top of the couch unharmed). And I am reminded that maybe that is just who she is as a person and maybe, I do need to raise their completely opposite personalities differently.
It is OK that I need to remind her 10 times a day how smart she is. I would do it 100 times a day if I need to. It’s OK that Reagan will roll over and go to sleep and Maylie wants held just a little longer. I will hold her until forever if she lets me. It’s OK that she needs reassurance that she is an amazing singer, an award-winning teeth brusher, a master at writing and a beautiful person both inside and out. I will continue to remind her of that day in and day out.
Because she is one of the most loving, smart, kind and genuine persons — old or young — that I have ever come in contact with. And even if it takes the rest of my life, I will never stop being the encourager that she needs.
You got this, baby girl. Whatever it is, you got it. I believe in you. Always.
Sarah (Pitson) Shrader was born and raised in Lima. She is a Lima Central Catholic and Tiffin University graduate. Sarah is a full-time working mama who enjoys writing about her somewhat crazy, always adventurous life as a mother. She lives in Bath Township with her husband, Paul, and their daughters, her writing inspirations, Maylie and Reagan.